Social networking on the Internet has changed the way we form relationships and connections in our lives. Today people can be “friends” in a more impersonal way with people they may have never met face to face. The biggest social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow for instant connections with a group or person that you may: share a common interest with, know casually, knew in your childhood, or met in a social setting. I am amazed by the amounts of “friends” people amass on Facebook. It is very interesting how the term “friend” has been expanded to anyone that will accept and invitation through Facebook. Facebook and Twitter allow us to connect to not only to our circle of friends and family, but also to the world. In addition, social networking sites allow people from all walks of life to form “friendships” with people that share similar values, hopes, and dreams.
Social networking sites such as Facebook often influence a person’s decision-making process. It is fascinating the amount of people that will “like” a particular page or cause because someone else in their circle of friends has joined onto the cause. In the articles by both Danah Boyd and Brett A. Bumgarner, we get a picture of the deeper ramifications of the psychological ways in which individuals use these social media sites to sites to fill perceived voids in their lives, and build a sense of self and identity for the users. In the article “Why Your (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life” Danah Boyd says, “By allowing us to have a collective experience with people who are both like and unlike us, public life validates the reality that we are experiencing.” (p. 443). One realizes that how much of a crutch these social network sites have become for people of all ages. Someone may feel like they are the only one experiencing a seminal event in their lives, until they read someone else going through a similar experience.
We begin to realize that our perceived unique experiences are in fact not so different from others. Furthermore, as both authors demonstrate through research and data, individuals are easily swayed and persuaded by these sites to act in conformity with the masses. Teenagers especially want to be a part of the status quo and will follow others just to be accepted.
The website http://www.wefeelfine.org/ is phenomenal display through both words and images of the ideas articulated by Bumgarner and Boyd. The website offers a unique perspective on the ways in which we as humans emote feelings. One begins to see that human emotions and feelings are a source of universal connection with people from across the planet. The creators of the site say it best in their mission statement, “At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what’s on our blogs, what’s in our hearts, what’s in our minds. We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life.” This is a remarkable commentary on the human experience. No matter how much we try to make ourselves original or unique, humans share the same fundamental emotional experiences: “We are reminded that no matter what we feel, there are likely a number of other people around the world who feel the same.” Each person has his/her own unique way of portraying this message, but in the end no matter our race, age or gender we all are same in our core.
Humans crave and need connections with others in order to be able to grow and feel full. The images displayed on this site make you laugh, cry and ponder. The image and words of the picture below leave a powerful impact because it illustrates that hopelessness and despair is not a unique experience:
This is one of the countless expressions retrieved and displayed on this website that show that our largely populated planet is connected on a personal level. These written expressions make one realize that no matter where you are, there is someone feeling the same thing or the experiencing the same emotions and experiences.
Humans crave their individuality, and social networking provides a forum to display ones attributes to the world. It allows for fast friendships and instant gratification, but it is these same experiences that can make people with a thousand “friends” feel lonely. Arguably, social networking lacks emotional connections and bonds. The website ““We Feel Fine” shows the ways that our planet can connect on emotional levels. People living across the world from each other are often experiencing similar events and sensations. A reality that exist despite differences in race, gender and culture. This is a fascinating concept that is well demonstrated in viewing the thousand of images displayed on “We Feel Fine.”
Boyd, Danah. “Why Your (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life” Common Culture: Reading and Writing About American Popular Culture. Ed. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. University of California at Santa Barbara: Prentice Hall, 2009. 422-452. Print.